Buying Power: A Wealthy Governor and His Friends Are Remaking Illinois

The richest man in Illinois does not often give speeches. But on a warm spring day two years ago, Kenneth C. Griffin, the billionaire founder of one of the world’s largest hedge funds, rose before a black-tie dinner of the Economic Club of Chicago to deliver an urgent plea to the city’s elite.They had stood silently, Mr. Griffin told them, as politicians taxed too much, spent too much and drove businesses and jobs from the state. They had refused to help those who would take on the reigning powers in the Illinois Capitol. “It is time for us to do something,” heimplored.Their response came quickly. In the months since, Mr. Griffin and a small group of rich supporters — not just from Chicago, but also from New York City and Los Angeles, southern Florida and Texas — have poured tens of millions of dollars into the state, a concentration of political money without precedent in Illinois history.Their wealth has forcefully shifted the state’s balance of power. Last year, the families helped elect as governor Bruce Rauner, a Griffin friend and former private equity executive from the Chicago suburbs, who estimates his own fortune at more than $500 million. Now they are rallying behind Mr. Rauner’s agenda: to cut spending and overhaul the state’s pension system, impose term limits and weaken public employee unions.

Source: Buying Power: A Wealthy Governor and His Friends Are Remaking Illinois

Political parties go after million-dollar donors in wake of looser rules

The national political parties are urging wealthy backers to give them 10 times more money than was allowed in the last presidential election, taking advantage of looser restrictions to pursue million-dollar donors with zeal.Under the new plans, which have not been disclosed publicly, the top donation tier for the Republican National Committee has soared to $1.34 million per couple this election cycle. Democratic contributors, meanwhile, are being hit up for even more — about $1.6 million per couple — to support the party’s convention and a separate joint fundraising effort between the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign.

Source: Political parties go after million-dollar donors in wake of looser rules – The Washington Post

We Need to Fix Our Democracy: Lawrence Lessig Weighs Presidential Run to Rid Money From Politics

“The 2016 presidential race is shaping up to be the most expensive political race in history. Experts predict as much as $10 billion could be spent by candidates, parties and outside groups on the campaign. A recent analysis by The New York Times shows fewer than 400 families are responsible for almost half the money raised to date. The vast majority of the $388 million raised so far has been channeled to super PACs which can accept unlimited donations in support of candidates. According to the Times, the political network overseen by the conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch plans to spend close to $900 million on the 2016 campaign. That figure dwarfs how much the Republican National Committee and the party’s two congressional campaign committees spent in the 2012 election. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has a set a fundraising goal of $2.5 billion. Today we are joined by a law professor who is considering challenging Clinton in the Democratic primary. His platform is simple: Get money out of politics. Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig says that if he won the presidency, he would serve only as long as it takes to pass sweeping campaign finance reform. Then, he says, he would resign.”

Lawrence Lessig pondering 2016 bid because ‘the system is rigged’

Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig says he is mulling a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination because “the system is rigged” in favor of lobbyists and those able to exert their influence to a disproportionate degree.

“You’re going to get nothing done that the Democrats are talking about until we deal with this issue,” Lessig said in an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday.

…“Why are the lobbyists so powerful? It’s because they are one of the channels through which money gets into the system,” he told Steele. “But if you change the way you fund campaigns, they don’t begin to have the power they have anymore.”